Each year the Last Descents team returns to the Salween (Nu-Jiang) river in the heart of rural China to run multi-day raft trips, kayak, and explore one of the greatest watersheds in China.
The Salween is a whitewater boater’s paradise full of big, splashy rapids for almost any paddling level. The diversity of paddling options is quickly making the Salween the home of the burgeoning Chinese whitewater scene. The upper stretches of the river feature several big water class V runs, interspersed with many quality class III and IV options. The high volume, pool-drop nature of the river makes it especially well suited for learning and improving skills in a lower risk environment. Below almost every rapid the river mellows into a slow curl of emerald green, punctuated by bursting bubbles surging up from below. Paddlers of all levels can drift along and appreciate stunning views of stepped terraces rising into snow capped peaks.
Our favorite Salween rafting stretch has all the makings of a classic multi-day river trip. In between rapids, long sandy beaches stretch out calling for lawn games and late night campfires. Big, swirling eddies at camp are perfect for developing kayak skills, going for a SUP paddle, or building a slip and slide. After a long day of whitewater excitement, its time to kick back with toes in the sand and watch the sun dip below the mountains while enjoying fresh, local food often grown right in the Salween river valley.
Hiking along the Salween valley, you can hunt for waterfalls, scout for monkeys, or watch for one of the many rare bird species endemic to the valley. The fertile Salween valley is dotted with agricultural villages, each developing at its own pace. Exploring the villages without road access can be like taking a step back in time. We especially value the opportunity to facilitate and participate in conversations between river guests from the urban Chinese middle class and the local villagers. Our friends in the villages are able to provide multi-generational oral histories and local ecological knowledge that add another dimension to understanding the significance of the Salween river valley.